At 9 am: Winds are forecasted in Las Cruces area to be in the 31 to 41 mph range in the afternoon with gusts up to 55 mph. The time series plot below is based on the 13-km resolution Rapid Refresh model at a grid cell in Las Cruces for wind speed today. Winds should peak at 23 UTC.
As of 7pm, this dust storm is a whopper. I-10 has been close since noon and the winds and dust plumes have not let up. Below a NMDOT truck blocks the entrance to the frontage road that runs along I-10 near the Las Cruces Airport. A State Police cruiser blocked the entrance to I-10. I talked to the NMDOT worker who was directing traffic here and he said that there are locations down the road that have zero visibility. He also mentioned he exchanged words with some disgruntled travelers from 'back east' who didn't understand the dangers of driving along this stretch of highway. State Police had ultimate say on when the road will open up.
Below is another videocast of today's dust storm as seen from GOES, courtesy of NCAR RAP webpage.
We installed the CL31 ceilometer on top of the monitoring trailer so we'll be showing some products from that soon. I just received the unit on Monday after being used in a year-long project in Sparks, NV for investigating high PM2.5 exceedances. I glanced at the backscatter profiles at around 6:30 pm and it was showing most of the dust confined to a layer about 800 meters thick. As expected the highest levels were near the ground.
By the end of the day, particulate concentrations decreased to pre-storm levels. Below is a summary of hourly PM10 across the New Mexico monitoring stations. The Las Cruces Holman station recorded the highest hourly value of 3977 ug/m3. The 24-hour average PM10 at that location was 557 ug/m3, which is about 3.7 times the EPA standard.
Peak hourly PM2.5 were nearly 200 ug/m3 across all stations in southern NM. Highest 24-hour averaged PM2.5 was at the Sunland Park Desert View Elementary School station with a 90 ug/m3 concentration.